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  1. M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m
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Stellar’ department head Mark Tasker at Bates Wells Braithwaite is praised for his ‘commercial acumen’; he advised Research Views Limited on various transactions, including the sale of its healthcare business to Progressive Digital Media Group. David Davies is ‘practical and completely unflappable’, as is senior associate Natalie Knight-Wickens; clients describe the practice as ‘superb value for money’.

Boodle Hatfield LLP’s ‘very responsive’ team has ‘excellent knowledge’, and is particularly active in the real estate sector; clients include Marriott International, IGB Corporation, Capital Drilling and Chiltern Farm Chemicals. ‘Very commercial’ department head Nigel Stone is supported by Richard Beavan and the ‘smart, business-oriented and flexibleRahul Thakrar, who recently made partner.

Bristows LLP is particularly strong in TMT and life sciences work. Practice head Mark Hawes acted for UCL Business on the £25m spin-off of Freeline Therapeutics. The ‘knowledgeable, calm, pragmatic and extremely responsiveMarek Petecki advised AstraZeneca UK on the $215m sale of its rights in prescription medicine, Entocort, to Tillots. Laura Anderson is also recommended.

Financial services, healthcare, technology and real estate are the key sector focuses of Nick Gibbon’s department at DAC Beachcroft LLP. Gibbon advised Currencies Direct on its £200m sale to a management buyout vehicle backed by Palamon and Corsair. He also acted for Nomad Bioscience on the sale of Icon Genetics to Denka. Other clients include Crest Nicholson and OptiBiotix Health.

Richard Lane’s team at Farrer & Co welcomed senior associate Marie Bates from Slaughter and May in October 2015. The ‘very high-quality’, ‘always attentive’ Lane is commended for his ‘practical counsel’; he advised Ping Pong Group International on its £8m sale of Ping Pong Holdings to Vert Capital. Andy Peterkin is ‘responsive, flexible and highly practical’.

Fladgate LLP’s department recruited Graham Spitz from Locke Lord LLP, as well as Chris Chrysanthou and Nigel Gordon from Fasken Martineau LLP. Amy Collins advised the shareholders of GSH Group on its £53m sale to ISS. Luke Morris acted for Privet Capital on its acquisition of Pyser-SGI Group and Aeromet.

Particularly active in the real estate sector, the team at Forsters LLP counts Greybull Capital and Bespoke Hotels among its clients. Practice head Craigie Pearson acted for BMO Real Estate Partners on its £45m purchase of Abstract (Crawley). Rosalyn Breedy moved to Wedlake Bell LLP but Christine Dubignon was promoted to partner in April 2016.

Fox Williams LLP’s team is led by Richie Clark, which hired corporate fundraising specialist Nigel Brahams from GFI Group. Paul Taylor acted for CREALOGIX Holding on the purchase of MBA Systems, and advised C Burrow Consulting on the sale to Pandora Jewellery UK of Evernal, Evernal 2, Evernal 3 and Evernal 4. Senior associate Mary Elliott is recommended.

Kemp Little LLP provides a ‘consistently high level of service’, and is ‘good value for money’. It acted for Thomson Reuters on its purchase of Business Integrity, and advised Cluster Seven’s management team on the sale of their shares in the company to Azini 3. Practice head Charles Claisse and senior associate Deborah Angel are recommended.

Jon Sweet’s practice at Marriott Harrison LLP counts Kaplan International Holdings, Cello Group and Avalon Television among its clients. Jonathan Pearce is recommended. Nils Reid and the ‘commercially awareAndrew Williamson joined from McClure Naismith LLP, with Brett Israel arriving from Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP.

McGuireWoods London LLP’s department advised Tantalus Rare Earths on the €10m sale of one of its subsidiaries to Apphia Minerals. Other clients include Athabasca Resources, IBI Group and Afton Chemical (London). Mehboob Dossa and Patrick De Ridder lead the team. Simon Cox moved in-house at ThomasLloyd Group.

Penningtons Manches LLP’s main sector focuses are retail, technology and real estate; clients include All Saints Retail, Sellar Property Group and Verisk Analytics. Matthew Martin and Simon Bickerdike head the team, which is praised for its cross-border capabilities. Consultant Ajit Mishra joined the London office from Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP in July 2015; he co-heads the department’s India team.

Richard Edmundson and Mark Crofskey’s team at PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP is commended for its responsiveness and ‘global coverage’. Sharon Fryer moved to Thomas Cooper LLP in September 2015, but the firm brought in four new faces in John Amberton, Peter Workman, Oliver Williams and Thomas Colmer (from Baker McKenzie LLP, King & Wood Mallesons, DLA Piper and Osborne Clarke respectively).

At Bircham Dyson Bell, practice head Philip Lamb gives ‘sound, practical recommendations’ and shows ‘alacrity’. In a strong year for the practice, Nick McCarthy and consultant John Turnbull acted for Indoor Bowling Acquisitions on its £40m purchase of Essenden, and Peter McLoughlin assisted Smurfit Kappa with its £43m acquisition of Inspirepac Holdings.

Stojan Essex joined Blake Morgan LLP’s ‘responsive, efficient’ team as part of its absorption of Piper Smith Watton LLP. The ‘robust, commercialRobert Lyons and the ‘calm, measuredLawrence Phillips are key figures along with practice head Martin Kay; Lyons acted for Kerry Foods on its £20m purchase of Rollover Holdings.

Mark Dorff leads Brown Rudnick LLP’s team, which is particularly strong in the real estate, pharmaceuticals and technology sectors. Dorff acted for HeartSine Technologies on its sale to Physio Control. On the buy side, Tim Matthews assisted Midatech Pharma with its £20m purchase of DARA BioSciences. Philip Rogers joined from Clyde & Co LLP.

Druces LLP’s ‘approachable and responsive’ practice recruited David Bennett and David Smith from Marriott Harrison LLP and Fasken Martineau LLP, respectively. Department head Toby Stroh and senior associate Antony Cotton are recommended along with Christopher Axford, who combines ‘experience and sound judgement’. Clients include Glenstone Property Group and Trinity Healthcare.

The key partners at Faegre Baker Daniels, which is notable for its UK/US cross-border capabilities, are Paul Finlan, Linda Crow and Gary Laitner. Counsel Cristina Audran-Proca joined from Locke Lord LLP in February 2016.

The ‘knowledgeableTim Parker heads Harbottle & Lewis LLP’s ‘efficient and skilful’ team, which includes the ‘helpful, pragmatic and tenaciousCharles Leveque. Colin Howes acted for The Learning Clinic on the sale of its shares to System C and Tony Littner assisted Brandwatch with its acquisition of PeerIndex.

Ashley Reeback and ‘constructive negotiatorMichael Harris lead the ‘outstanding’ team at Howard Kennedy LLP, which counts Mango Hotels, Mirada and Yum! Group among its clients. Reeback advised the shareholders of Funkin on their sale of the company to AG Barr. Consultant Jonathan Metliss joined from Gordon Dadds.

GasLog, Hercules Offshore and Fred Olsen are among the clients of Ince & Co’s ‘excellent’ practice. Insurance expert Jennifer Donohue, who joined from Locke Lord LLP, shows ‘deep experience’ and ‘complete command of jurisdictional issues’. Stephen Jarvis advised PVM Oil Associates on its $160m sale to Tullett Prebon.

Following its merger with Thomas Eggar LLP, Irwin Mitchell’s team expanded significantly: incoming M&A practitioners include the ‘approachable’ Bryan Bletso, the ‘unflappable’ Jonathan Snade and the ‘solution-oriented’ David Glass. Department head Edward Persse acted for Amscan International on its acquisition of Travis Designs. Other clients include Jones Lang LaSalle, Solar Frontier Europe and Ellandi.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s ‘responsive, practical’ team has ‘broad, in-depth knowledge’, and recently acted for Aberdeen Asset Management and American Pan Company UK Holdings. Practice head Wayne O’Neil gives ‘accurate, precise advice’. Consultant Robin Shannan joined from McClure Naismith LLP; Guy de Speville moved in-house at Pagoda Energy Services.

Michael Dawes leads Memery Crystal LLP’s practice, whose clients include Gaming Realms, Laboratoires Prosec and Electric Word. Greg Scott acted for the shareholders of Ingenious Asset Management Group on the sale of all its shares to Tilney Bestinvest Group. Lesley Gregory advised Optimal Medicine on its sale to IXICO.

Rosenblatt had a strong year, in which the corporate transactions it handled totalled over £1.5bn in deal value. Department head Tom Ferns assisted Energy Technique during its £9m takeover by Volution Group, and advised Market Tech Holdings on its €32m purchase of a controlling interest in Glispa. Jon Lovitt is recommended.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s team, which is ‘commercial, responsive and good-value’, is particularly strong in the pharmaceuticals, energy and technology sectors, and acted for the shareholders of Aircraft Medical on their $110m sale of the company to Covidien. The ‘patient, polite and very well-preparedWalter Blake leads the team, which welcomed Carl Powlson from Atanaskovic Hartnell in May 2016.

Sheridans has expertise in the media, technology and leisure sectors; senior associate Jolita Kajtazi acted for the shareholders of Simon’s Cat on their sale of a 51% stake in the company to Endemol UK. Rex Nwakodo heads the practice, which also includes Sara Wax and Charlotte Fox.

Peter Weiss and Simon Goldberg lead the ‘technically strong, nimble’ team at Simons Muirhead & Burton, which is praised by several clients as ‘going the extra mile’. Goldberg advised Reef Television during its £5m takeover by Ten Alps. Clarion Events, Stagwell Group and RPL Mergers are recent client wins; more longstanding clients include Dennis Publishing and Time Out Group.

David Judah heads the team at Wallace LLP; he advised Opia on its £24m merger with Village Roadshow. Rex Newman is ‘responsive, engaged, sophisticated, commercial, articulate and intelligent’; he assisted Aurelius with its acquisition of Transform Medical Group. John Woodhouse and Charlotte Wheeldon are other names to note.

Wedlake Bell LLP’s ‘polite but tenacious’ team provides ‘high-quality service at a sensible price’; Residential Land and Right Management are among its clients. ‘Highly experienced’ department head Janice Wall is praised for her ‘commerciality’ and ‘ability to simplify complex issues’. Jai Bal and Edward Craft are also recommended.

Wiggin LLP’s practice, which specialises in the media and technology sector transactions, is led by Michael Brader and Adrian Jones. Brader advised Blast! Films on its sale of a majority stake in the company to Sky. David McLeish, formerly in-house counsel at Playtech, joined the team in January 2016. Ben Whitelock is recommended.

Withers LLP is notably active in the sports, luxury goods and leisure sectors, and advised Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports on a share purchase agreement regarding Renault’s acquisition of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team. The deal was led by Anthony Indaimo, who splits his time between London and Milan; he co-heads the department with Ben Simpson.

Collyer Bristow LLP’s practice is led by Jeff Roberts, with support from Paul Sillis and Howard Ricklow. Roberts assisted Ibrahim Ibrahim with its sale of Portland Design Associates to Perkins+Will and advised John Brown Media on its sale to Dentsu Aegis Network. Other clients include Molinare TV & Film.

Susan Laws heads the practice at Duane Morris, which was bolstered by the arrival of investment specialist Carl Winkworth from Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP. Many of its clients are funds; the team acted for Metric Capital Partners on its purchase of a Spanish company. Jeffrey Rodwell assisted CIBT Visas with its acquisition of Peregrine Immigration Management.

Russel Shear’s team at Edwin Coe LLP counts Toshiba Carrier Corporation, Kout Food Group and Vishay Intertechnology among its clients. The ‘personable, responsiveDavid Kinch was instructed by Global Digital Markets on its sale to VE Interactive. Victor Hawrych is also recommended. Alexandre Terrasse, who is dual qualified in English and French law, joined in February 2016 from Jeffrey Green Russell.

Tanya Shillingford heads the ‘prompt, commercially focused’ practice at Goodman Derrick LLP, which provides ‘quality at all levels’. The ‘practical, reassuringEdward Hoare advised Editec U.K. on its acquisition of 76% of Chroma Sports’ issued share capital. Other clients include Chime Communications and OMG. Jessica Nugent made partner in May 2015.

Gordon Dadds’ ‘attentive’ team provides ‘excellent service’. Alon Domb heads the practice, which was augmented in October 2015 by Jan Hoppe and John O’Connell joining as part of the absorption of Jeffrey Green Russell. The group acted for Future Route during its £10m sale to a consortium led by Don Robert and Pollen Street Capital. The ‘approachable, knowledgeable’ Stephen Fuller is recommended.

Hamlins LLP’s practice head Daniel Bellau is commended for his ‘expertise’ and ‘in-depth knowledge’; he advised Palace Capital on its £32m purchase of O&H Northampton and £4m acquisition of Dering Properties (Sutton). The team is notably strong in real estate and leisure, but also has a wider practice, and acted for Mettalis Recycling on its purchase of a Sheffield-based metal recycling business.

Joelson’s team has particular experience in the leisure, media, energy and leisure sectors, and acted for Urban Fresh Foods on its £70m sale to Lotus Bakeries. Practice co-heads Paul Chiappe and Phil Hails-Smith are ably supported by Sheldon Cordell and Philippa Sturt; all are praised as being responsive and having ‘broad knowledge’.

Michael Bennett’s ‘extremely diligent, hardworking and responsive’ practice at Kerman & Co LLP counts Total Logistics, Simmons Gainsford and Alba Mineral Resources among its clients. Yvonne Costello and Una Deretic advised Strat Aero on its £1.5m purchase of Geocurve Holdings. Deretic also acted for CloserStill Holdings on its sale to Inflexion Private Equity.

Keystone Law’s ‘excellent’ department mainly acts for entrepreneurs and SMEs; clients include Philglas & Swiggot, Caxton FX, G’Nosh and Ruffena Capital. Staffed mainly by senior consultants, the team has cross-jurisdictional capabilities; Ian Taylorson, Robin Hampton, Andrew Niblock and Geoffrey Pickerill are the key contacts.

The ‘responsive and commercial’ James Channo leads the team at Locke Lord LLP, which gives ‘excellent service’; he is supported by Robert Askew and senior associate Sharon O’Donnell. Channo acted for Team on the UK aspects of its $335m merger with Furmanite Corporation. Graham Spitz moved to Fladgate LLP.

Energy and fintech expert Ian Binnie joined Michelmores LLP’s department from Hamlins LLP in May 2016. Practice head Roger Fink, who is regarded as having ‘second-to-none industry knowledge’ and ‘an eye for detail’, advised GL Hearn on its sale to Capita. Joe Whitfield has particular expertise in African markets, reflecting the practice’s multi-jurisdictional experience.

Russell-Cooke LLP’s practice is led by Jonathan Thornton, with support from Scott Leonard, David Webster and Guy Wilmot. Webster and Leonard assisted the founders of BiGDUG with the £19m sale of the company to KAISER+KRAFT EUROPA. Other clients include SportsDirect, Rockshore Group and Just Healthcare; Kasada UK and Orderella are more recent client wins.

The ‘detail-oriented’ team at Teacher Stern LLP has ‘great knowledge and expertise’. David Salisbury and the ‘acutely commercialMartine Nathan, who specialise in sports and TMT respectively, head the practice, which counts Recall, Metroline, CityFleet and Dovetail Systems among its clients. Senior associate Martin O’Donoghue is also recommended.

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